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Fact check: Becerra has long backed single-payer. That doesn't mean it will happen if he's HHS secretary

Victoria Knight, Kaiser Health News on

Published in News & Features

A digital ad running in Georgia and New Hampshire says Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, supports “Medicare for All.”

“Becerra supports Bernie’s government takeover of your health care, eliminating your employer-provided coverage,” the narrator says.

The ad, funded by the campaign PAC of Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is part of a blitz from conservative groups against Becerra’s confirmation. It first aired last week and will continue until the Senate’s confirmation vote. The foreboding ad includes a range of other attacks, including criticisms of California’s COVID-19 response and Becerra’s role in legal cases on reproductive rights.

Another ad, this one funded by Heritage Action for America and airing in the Washington, D.C., market, uses similar talking points, including Becerra’s support for “government-run health care.”

Becerra underwent two Senate hearings last week in which he faced questions about his support for Medicare for All.

“Your long-standing support for single-payer, government-run health care seems hostile to our current system from my perspective,” Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said during last Wednesday’s Senate Finance Committee hearing. “What assurances can you give to Americans who currently have private insurance, including through Medicare Advantage, and are satisfied with their insurance provider that they will not lose their coverage in the future to some sort of Medicare for All approach or federal takeover of health care?”

 

Becerra responded that he was asked to serve at the pleasure of Biden, who has made it clear he wants to build on the Affordable Care Act. “That will be my mission,” he said.

Since a vote on Becerra’s nomination could happen this week, we thought it was important to check the claim from this ad and give context to what power HHS secretaries actually have.

We reached out to Cotton’s press team to ask for evidence to support the ad but didn’t hear back. The ad does cite a December New York Times article with the headline “Becerra Supports ‘Medicare for All’ and Could Help States Get There” to back up the claim.

Noah Weinrich, press secretary for Heritage Action for America, did provide evidence of Becerra’s support for Medicare for All. Weinrich sent clips of press interviews, as well as links to House of Representatives Medicare for All bills that Becerra co-sponsored over his years in Congress.

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